3.2 Miles to Pamola Peak, elevation 4,902 feet
2-3 hours (one way, up)
Difficulty: Weekend Warriors
On nearly any other mountain in the Northeast, the Helon Taylor trail would be a destination hike unto itself. On Katahdin, however, it’s often relegated in discussion to “the most direct route to the Knife Edge,” but this is no ho-hum hike. The mostly exposed ascent of Pamola’s rocky spine with views for miles is truly remarkable—not to mention exhausting. Here’s to enjoying the commute!
The hike begins at Roaring Brook Campground with a quick 0.1 mile jaunt up the easy going Chimney Pond Trail. The Helon Taylor Trail, named after a celebrated former Baxter State Park supervisor, begins it’s 3.1 mile trek on the left with a moderate climb up a path entwined with rocks and roots.
The rocks get bigger as the trail approaches treeline, a few of which require scrambling and possibly hopping.
Exiting the trees begins the ascent up Keep Ridge, where most of the Helon Taylor Trail’s 3,413 feet of elevation gain is earned. Looking up, Keep Ridge appears as one long, steep staircase into the clouds that makes the gym’s stairmaster seem like a tricycle with training wheels. Once onto the ridge there’s no cover, nor any place to seek shelter, so make sure you’re prepared with plenty of water, all weather gear, and sun protection. Steer clear of this hike during inclement weather.
The Helon Taylor Trail tops-out at Pamola Peak (elevation 4,902 feet) at the junction with the Dudley and Knife Edge trails, the latter of which gets our vote for the most spectacular trail in the Northeast. If you’ve got your brave hiking boots on, and Pamola, Katahdin’s deity feared for her fickle territorialism, is playing nice with the weather, continue across the Knife Edge to reach Baxter Peak, Maine’s highest point (elevation 5,267 feet).
Follow Baxter State Park’s directions to the Togue Pond Gatehouse. Veer right after the gatehouse and follow signs to Roaring Brook Campground, which is also the main parking area for Chimney Pond Campground. Those staying at Chimney Pond have a 3.3-mile hike to the campground.